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Ask Slashdot: FOSS, Multiplatform Skype Replacement for PC-to-PC Video Chat? 281

Posted by timothy
from the really-long-cardboard-tube dept.
obarthelemy writes "Skype having just been borged, now may be a good time to hedge our bets and look for a replacement. I'm *not* looking for something that interfaces with POTS, but just a simple PC-to-PC video chat tool that is very easy to configure and use, reliable, multiplatform (my family has Windows, Linux, MacOS; iOS and Android would be nice extras), and has good video/voice quality. We're almost only skyping with each other. What would you recommend?"
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Ask Slashdot: FOSS, Multiplatform Skype Replacement for PC-to-PC Video Chat?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @07:53PM (#36234202)

    Clearly, you want to be using Chatroulette or Omegle.

  • Ekiga (Score:2, Interesting)

    by leoplan2 (2064520)
    Ekiga?
    • by MrEricSir (398214)

      They said they wanted something that has Mac support, Ekiga is only Gnome and Windows.

      • by PReDiToR (687141)
        I run Arch with Enlightenment. Yes, I do have GTK installed and a few other Gnome dependencies, but I don't have to look at the Gnome interface.
        I also have Android.
        Ekiga runs fine behind my NAT system, I know this because a friend of mine called me from his iDevice the day we heard that MSFT was buying Skype. However, my Windows friend can't make his SIP work.

        I don't know which SIP client I like best on Arch. Twinkle, Linphone or Ekiga. I do know that between Linphone, SIPDroid and CSipSimple on my Andr
  • Skype (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Charcharodon (611187) on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @07:54PM (#36234214)
    uh....skype maybe. Just because MS got a hold of it means its down the tubes just yet.
    • Re:Skype (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Spicerun (551375) <spicerun.gmail@com> on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @08:01PM (#36234296)
      Obviously you haven't had the joy of using something after MS took it over. I've seen a few programs go down the tubes after MS bought the company. Sure, they didn't go down the tubes immediately, but they did die a long slow painful death. And the customers who stuck with those acquired programs got screwed ultimately.
      • Re:Skype (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @08:24PM (#36234500)

        Exactly. Remember Foxpro? It was actively maintained, and the developers actually listened to users' requests. When Microsoft announced .NET, suddenly all support for Foxpro went down the drain. Bugs kept cluttering programs and all complaints went to deaf ears.

        Worse: Even with its limitations and abandonment, Microsoft won't relase the foxpro (and ide) source code so we can make our improvements. Why? Because it might compete with "better" Microsoft solutions. This is a perfect case of Embrace, Extend, Extinguish.

        • Yes I do. But I think FoxPro death was more towards the fact its strong areas at the time have been outdated by the time of .NET
          FoxPro was great it was an easy to use language had better OO then VB at the time. And integrated very well with the database. However it required it own special file based database. Which causes file corruption for more then 2 or 3 people using the app, record locking that will often never get unlocked.

          With .NET and better integration with SQL server FoxPro need was reduced. If

    • Thats not the point. Having a nice PC to PC video connection would be handy. Why do you need to stick a server/service in between them to connect? I shouldn't have to connect to some third party to make a PC to PC video call.
    • Just because MS got a hold of it means its down the tubes just yet.

      "Despite its promises that Skype would continue to be offered for other platform, including free ones like Linux and Android, it looks like Microsoft is starting to erect some walls after its purchase of the company.
      The communications company Digium, which develops Skype for Asterisk, a software implementation of a PBX, has announced that it will be ceasing this development"

      In a product notification message, Digium said it had developed Skype for Asterisk in co-operation with Skype.

      "It includes proprietary software from Skype that allows Asterisk to join the Skype network as a native client. Skype has decided not to renew the agreement that permits us to package this proprietary software. Therefore Skype for Asterisk sales and activations will cease on July 26, 2011," the message said.

      http://www.itwire.com/business-it-news/open-source/47366-development-of-skype-for-asterisk-to-cease [itwire.com]

  • by nut (19435)

    Fring [ http://www.fring.com/ [fring.com] ] looks interesting, although it only works on mobile platforms right now.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    On the announcement that Microsoft had bought Skype I uninstalled Skype and installed Ekiga. I signed up for the free Ekiga account. Got it all running within a few minutes. No tinkering with configuration files. Just plug in the account information you registered at Ekiga.net. Emails are out to all my correspondents now urging them to convert to Ekiga.

    My immediate family has already converted, even the Windows only users. My favorite correspondents have too.

    Ekiga is installable from the Ubuntu repositories

  • by bradm (27075) on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @08:01PM (#36234294)

    Perhaps you could start evaluating some of these? [wikipedia.org]

  • Jabber / Google Talk (Score:5, Informative)

    by kiwix (1810960) on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @08:01PM (#36234298)

    Jabber is a good open protocol for Instant Messaging, and it has extensions for voice and video. The main idea is that it works like the email system: you can have an account on any server, and chat/talk/video with someone on a different server. There a many different clients to use the Jabber protocol, just like there are many different mail clients. And all of them are supposed to interact nicely with each other.

    My favorite client is telepathy which support the voice and video features (but getting the right codec is somewhat painfull), and has good NAT traversal capabilities. It runs on Linux, and on my N900.

    If you're looking for something more Windows-friendly, you can use the Google Talk plugin: Google Talk is just a Jabber server, and you can use it with any other Jabber server, and any client. The plugin is available for Windows and Linux (and there is probably something for Android).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @08:01PM (#36234300)

    Come on, seriously? Skype was a non-open source program before, which met all your needs, and did a great job. Microsoft is likely going to invest heavily in it, and integrate it into Windows 8, XBox360, and a lot of other things, making it more useful to you as more people will be using it.

    Microsoft is no angel, but they aren't the devil either.

    • by Tetsujin (103070)

      Come on, seriously? Skype was a non-open source program before, which met all your needs, and did a great job. Microsoft is likely going to invest heavily in it, and integrate it into Windows 8, XBox360, and a lot of other things, making it more useful to you as more people will be using it.

      Well, it wouldn't be more useful to me if they wound up discontinuing Linux support, you know?

      • by KitFox (712780)
        Yup. There's no way Microsoft will pull any features out. [slashdot.org]
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by concord (198387)

      Microsoft is no angel, but they aren't the devil either.

      Yeah, I mean ... at least they're not Apple.

    • by Tom (822)

      Microsoft is no angel, but they aren't the devil either.

      Only because those don't exist.

      Microsoft does have a history of poisoning everything they touch. I'm certainly not alone in still being angry about essentially destroying one of the major Mac games studios when they bought up Bungie just so they could have an xbox exclusive launch title.

      It's not paranoia. These guys don't buy up companies out of charity, they do it to strengthen their platform(s) and to undermine the competition, which to MS means: Absolutely everyone else. Even when they create or buy up

  • There's a whole assortment of options, but I've had good luck with both google talk and QQ. Granted, QQ is mostly used by Chinese, but it works well in the western world and is available (english version) for windows, macos, linux and EVERY mobile phone ever made that supports any kind of data service.

    • There's a whole assortment of options, but I've had good luck with both google talk and QQ. Granted, QQ is mostly used by Chinese, but it works well in the western world and is available (english version) for windows, macos, linux and EVERY mobile phone ever made that supports any kind of data service.

      Where is the English version of QQ for Linux you speak of?

      • There is a Linux QQ client. However, it is only in Chinese. To make it worse, it is terribly (unusably) unstable.

        I have tried to use it However, it crashes constantly and I can not plan on completing a chat session of just a few messages without needing to restart it at some point.

        The lack of a, working, QQ client for Linux is one of the reasons (really the main reason) that I use windows on my desktop.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @08:03PM (#36234326)

    I hear Skype does everything you want. Perhaps you are dissastisfied with it because your microphone only recognizes oral communication and is unable to understand when you talk out your ass.

  • Google voice and video chat is pretty solid and multiplatform option. You need to keep a gmail or igoogle tab open in the browser (with the plugin [google.com] installed) to be online, but other than that it's pretty decent. Android support is currently in 2.3.4 (the Nexus S only yet officially IIRC) but it is going to be rolled out to older versions shortly. It's not yet on iOS but its rumoured to be in the works.

    • by j-beda (85386)

      Isn't Google's offering an instance of Jabber? I have certainly used Mac OS's iChat to lot into my gmail account via its Jabber support (not that I have actually USED it for anything, so no information about if it actually works, or how well).

    • You're suggesting the man should switch from Newly-Borg'd to S.P.E.C.T.R.E.-from-Birth?

  • Not sure about android, but on pc and mac it does video..

    • Yeah, Yahoo is a good alternative because MS will never get their hands on that company. I mean, stop and think about it, Yahoo management would have to essentially throw in the towel in order to cash out while not caring about the company if they were to go near MS. It will NEVER happen, they would not only become a silicon valley laughing stock, but also hasten their slide to irrelevance. Yahoo + Bing, can you imagine that absurdity?

      Oh wait......

      Does AltaVista have a phone client?

  • by Troke (1612099) on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @08:09PM (#36234390)
    This is the perfect excuse to stop talking to your family.
  • Edge a bet? (Score:5, Informative)

    by capnkr (1153623) on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @08:15PM (#36234438)

    Dear story submitter/writer and /. editors:

    You don't 'edge' bets, you Hedge [thefreedictionary.com] bets. FYI.

  • by atomicbutterfly (1979388) on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @08:17PM (#36234446)

    Skype outpaces all other alternatives by far, particularly with regards to satisfying the "very easy to configure and use, reliable, multiplatform and has good video/voice quality" requirements. There's a reason so many people use it, and there's a reason Linux users still installed Skype when they were thrown scraps in terms of support and updates.

    Keep using Skype until such time that it NO LONGER WORKS (which I suspect will be for a very long time). Just because Microsoft owns it now doesn't mean it's dead. If it finally falls over in something like Linux, then you can move onto something such as Ekiga or whatever else has been developed, but there's simply nothing else in the consumer world that compares.

    Heh... "Skype having just been borged". You could at least explain how Skype no longer works for you instead of letting emotions cloud logic.

    • by Nimey (114278)

      Devil's advocate: MSN Messenger has gone through a number of protocol revisions, and IIRC only a couple of those are supported at a time. It's not inconceivable that MS would revise the Skype protocol (adding new features, say) and leave the legacy non-Windows clients to rot.

      Don't suppose the EU would be interested in making MS open the Skype protocol.

      • Devil's advocate: MSN Messenger has gone through a number of protocol revisions, and IIRC only a couple of those are supported at a time. It's not inconceivable that MS would revise the Skype protocol (adding new features, say) and leave the legacy non-Windows clients to rot.

        That is something which would happen. It's probably likely I'd say - Messenger already has audio/video support and integrating the Skype protocol would mean not requiring a separate Skype application anymore, at least on Windows.

        Don't s

        • by amiga3D (567632)

          I'm surprised that MS hasn't opened up the checkbook and handled the EU yet. Does the EU not allow bribing....er....I mean lobbying?

      • by PhilHibbs (4537)

        Don't suppose the EU would be interested in making MS open the Skype protocol.

        I guess we'll have to wait and see if Microsoft abuse it in a monopolistic fashion. i.e. if they use the market dominance position of Skype to advance their dominance of another market e.g. WinMo, XBoxLive, etc.

    • by maraist (68387) *
      skype on linux is buggy and so so. I give it two chances to get better under MS management, slim and none. Thus as an avid promoter of thin-client linux boxes, I'm not unlikely to want to risk investing in corporate multi-screen-sharing chat accounts, and or skype centric voip phones.
      • by atomicbutterfly (1979388) on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @09:40PM (#36235128)

        skype on linux is buggy and so so. I give it two chances to get better under MS management, slim and none. Thus as an avid promoter of thin-client linux boxes, I'm not unlikely to want to risk investing in corporate multi-screen-sharing chat accounts, and or skype centric voip phones.

        Skype has been crap under Linux for ages, and hadn't shown much sign of getting better even before Microsoft bought them out. I remember the announcement that the Skype UI would be open sourced - what's happened since? Absolutely nothing.

        Point is, if you look at the direction Skype has been going on Linux (nowhere), you probably wouldn't have picked Skype to use on your Linux boxes with or without Microsoft's influence, and would have looked elsewhere. Besides, I thought the commercial side of VoIP was already a mature market, with many alternatives to Skype (we're talking corporate level here, not consumer).

    • by Bob9113 (14996)

      > You could at least explain how Skype no longer works for you instead of letting emotions cloud logic.

      It is not an emotional connection that is being made, it is a logical one (though you may have a different set of premises). To more clearly understand the hypothesis, consider the following:

      Skype does not include support for standards-based interop, such as SIP. This is a problem because of network effect.

      The Skype service is centralized, with all calling controlled by Skype machines. If used in the mo

      • I hope that sufficiently clarifies the issue.

        Clarifies it enough, at least for your purposes. At least it's more thought out than HURR HURR MICROSOFT = SATAN, which I see a lot around here.

        Having said that, Skype (before Microsoft's acquisition) was already shown to be scum with regards to having possible backdoors and bowing down to regimes so that they could conduct business in less politically desirable areas. It's only when something involves Microsoft that people become irrational. Most major corporati

        • by Bob9113 (14996)

          > Most major corporations/companies are scum or have done scummy things in the past - why take action only when it's Microsoft?

          I don't think this forum fits your description. For example, consider the tide of sentiment regarding Google. A company that once -- when it took its mission statement seriously -- could do no wrong in the eyes of this community, is now often derided as an abuser of market dominance and for having sacrificed its stated objectives for money in cases like China.

          And while the reacti

    • Seeing that the alternatives at the moment are not exactly in the same league, they could do with more users/testing. And waiting for the Linux Skype client to be almost unable to talk to the Skype servers due to being extremely out-of-date (aside: anyone using the official Yahoo Messenger Linux client these days?) is not a good way to help having an alternative to jump to by that time.

  • Jitsi (Score:5, Informative)

    by Bryan3000000 (1356999) on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @08:38PM (#36234644)

    What used to be SIP Communicator, now Jitsi (because they added many protocols besides SIP). I can't believe I'm having to recommend this on /. so often. It has XMPP video chat and desktop sharing, and has all the other common protocols as well as SIP. It's in rapid development at this point, but has been stable for me since began using it a couple of weeks ago.

    The state of things in integrated communications is sad indeed with so few alternatives and fragmentation.

    • by Bob9113 (14996)

      > It's in rapid development at this point, but has been stable for me since began using it a couple of weeks ago.

      I too have been using Jitsi, including extensive use with my over-60 parents on Windows and people using Linux and OS-X. It has been extremely satisfying, offering both more stability and higher voice quality than my cellphone -- plus video.

      Connections can be made peer-to-peer, and with end-to-end encryption. And if you want to get really obsessive, you can tunnel over SSH, through multiple ho

    • That was the first thing I tried as well. Got myself a jitsi account, tried to configure SIP with this account on my N900, tried again, tried for 3 full hours, and no. The account is not even recognised as capable of making voice calls. Maybe the jitsi client itself works with this account, but I am afraid I cannot call anyone else or any system that does not have the exact same software.
  • by Zemran (3101)

    The standard VOIP is available on Linux, Mac and windows and there is a good selection of clients. I have never understood why people used the bastardised version (Skype) when the standard version is just as good. M$ have already started to ruin Skype and will continue to flush it down the toilet so that they can push MSN on people but, for voice calls VOIP is great, and for chat there are more options that I could list here.

    • by cbhacking (979169)

      Do you even know what "VoIP" stands for? There is no such thing as "The standard [Voice over Internet Protocol]" and Skype is just one of a great many mutually incompatible options. Microsoft has sold some form of VoIP, either integrated in the OS or otherwise, for over 15 years. The Unix-like world may have had it even before that. I don't know about Macs, but it's nothing new there either.

      The important thing, though, is that all of these are different. Microsoft's meeting telepresence, software phone, and

  • by westlake (615356) on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @09:13PM (#36234960)

    We're almost only skyping with each other. What would you recommend ?

    The only chat client that makes sense is the client used by those you want to chat with. Skype works so well for so many, you simply can't expect them to switch.

  • oh wait... that was bought by MS as well (integrated into xbox360 VOIP i believe?)
  • Is Cu-SeeMe still around?
    That little piece of software was capable of group video calls like 16 years ago.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CU-SeeMe [wikipedia.org]

  • As tech journalist and podcaster Skype has been the backbone of the industry for doing remote interviews. But to record it is a hack at best. Who ever makes a FOSS Video / Audio HD multiple guest video confrence software please allow for individual recording of the streams of audio and video. Skype technically could have done this but muxxed the audio from multiple guests together, the video then could be layered as different video layers using plugins on the mac side like Call Recorder. But If anything a
  • I highly recommend Jitsi as a Skype replacement. Check out http://www.jitsi.org./ [www.jitsi.org] It is also worthwhile to check out http://www.gnutelephony.org./ [www.gnutelephony.org] Both these sites have some good info on free, open source Skype replacement plans.
  • There was an article titled "Linux-Friendly Alternatives To Skype" less than a week ago! What's the point in repeating the discussion?

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